Recommend UsEmail this PageeGazetteAlislam.org
Let us go home, say Ahmadiyah
Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, Mataram
After living in a shelter for almost six months, more than 150 people from Ketapang’s Ahmadiyah congregation want to go home.
An angry mob drove the 32 families from their homes in West Lombok in February this year and the group has since sought refugee in West Nusa Tenggara capital city Mataram’s Transito shelter.
During the violent attack, the houses of 26 families were vandalized or set on fire.
“We’ve been living in this shelter for almost six months. We are displaced in our own country. We’re Indonesians too, and we want to be free,” the group’s coordinator, Zainal Abidin, said Saturday.
Ahmad said children from the group were being singled out for discrimination at their new school.
Ten children, all first graders, received a single piece of paper instead of the normal school report books at the end of term, he said. At the top of the page, a teacher wrote “grades of Ahmadiyah child”.
“We’re being discriminated against. In the shelter, we’re not free, and people stare at us suspiciously at the market,” Zainal said.
Conditions are poor at the shelter and Zainal hoped the government would send the group back to their homes soon.
Sahidin, an Ahmadiyah follower, said he, his wife and four children were now dependent on government aid to survive.
The family’s savings had been exhausted long ago and he could not work on his farm while he remained at the shelter, he said.
Most of the group are farmers and government assistance is getting less. Free rice distributed to the group has dropped from 12 kilograms to seven kilograms a family, he said.
“Imagine how difficult it is to survive on that,” Sahidin said. “If we can’t go back to Ketapang, they should find us another place to live.”
The Ahmadiyah faith developed out of Islam in India in the late 19th Century. Its members believe that the prophet Mizra Ghulam Ahmad is God’s last messenger after Muhammad.
Groups in Indonesia have been the subject of attacks by Muslim groups after the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) outlawed the faith in a fatwa earlier this year.
Mataram Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Suyata, said the police had named four suspects in the February attack.
Suyata said it was up to the West Lombok government to decide whether to send the group home.
“Legally, the attack is still being processed by the police,” he said.
Administration spokesman Basirun Anwar said there had been no decision on the group’s fate.
However, he said a decree issued by West Lombok Regent had forbid Ahmadiyah to preach in the area.
Following the February attack, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the state “guarantees the freedom of each citizen to hold and practice their own religion”. He said the government did not differentiate between religious groups or categorize them as “recognized or unrecognized”.
MUI first issued an edict in 1980 calling the group un-Islamic, although the group, believed to number about 200,000 followers here, has existed in Indonesia since 1953.